A plan to place stone between downtown Montauk and the ocean and cover it with sand is one of just two of the Army Corps' five options that East Hampton Town is considering | Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers
A plan to place stone between downtown Montauk and the ocean and cover it with sand is one of just two of the Army Corps’ five options that East Hampton Town is considering | Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers

East Hampton Town

East Hampton Town Board members agreed at their work session Tuesday that they’re interested in just two of the five options proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for shoring up downtown Montauk: putting sand on the beaches and burying boulders on the beaches and then covering them with sand.

More information on options presented to East Hampton last week is available here.

The town has little more than a month to let the Army Corps know which options it is interested in, said Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson at Tuesday’s work session.

“if we do not accept this money it will be taken other places,” he said. “The window of opportunity will be that short.”

“A bunch of people believe the Army Corps should be challenged. You challenge them, they will think otherwise about their investment model in this town. It’s a very practical thing,” he added. “Brookhaven would embrace [Congressman] Tim Bishop and this money. [State Assemblyman] Fred Thiele said if you don’t take this money now, you lose it.”

Mr. Wilkinson said the Army Corps’ other ideas of a “feeder beach” upstream that will replenish beaches further to the west was “totally unacceptable,” and that groins in the sand “are never going to happen. There’s too much concern for scouring.” He added that the option of relocating about 200 co-op and condominium owners for a larger project, also pitched by the Army Corps, is also never going to happen.

Mr. Wilkinson added that maintenance of either option the town is in favor of could cost $5 million per year, with $1.7 million of that money coming from state and local government. He added that he’s not sure what will happen if the federal government doesn’t have the money some years to do the maintenance.

“This decision has long-term impact,” he said.

Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc wondered if the project would need a waiver from New York State if it isn’t deemed consistent with the town’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, but other board members thought the federal government’s decisions may supercede state law.

Rameshwar Das, who helped develop the town’s LWRP, told the board he thought the situation in Montauk was “urgent” but not an emergency.

“The Corps is a budget-driven organization. Mitigation and soft solutions have come along much more recently in their repertoire,” he cautioned. “They’re a little uncomfortable with it.”
Showdown over Showtime

Tuesday’s work session was hijacked by a partisan showdown over a filming permit that left one Republican waterfront homeowner, who wondered why there were Klieg lights shining in his windows all night, disgusted with the devolution of dialogue at town hall.

Neighbors of Amagansett oceanfront road ends have had a strange set of neighbors over the past few weeks: Showtime is filming a pilot for a TV show called “The Affair” in their backyards, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. Ken Silverman, who lives near the shoot, said about 400 people were on the set until 2 or 3 a.m., parking at least 120 cars in neighbors’ driveways and on their lawns, shining several 10,000 watt lights, and that they were denying access to the road ends and the Atlantic Ocean.

But when Mr. Van Scoyoc, a Democrat, asked why Town Clerk Fred Overton, who is running for Town Board on the Republican line, issued the film permit without running it by the town council, his Republican counterparts on the board jumped down his throat.

“This is such a political setup,” said Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, a Republican who isn’t running again this year but whose seat Mr. Overton hopes to fill. “This whole campaign is about how we the Republicans are destroying quality of life. The whole world of politics is such an ugly place, man…. The whole world of creating drama about selfish issues is just selfish.”

“I personally feel there is nothing selfish about expecting you can get a good night’s sleep,” countered Mr. Van Scoyoc, who said he had been asked by constituents to look into the policy and he hadn’t meant it as a personal attack on Mr. Overton. “This is really about a quality of life issue. it has absolutely nothing to do with politics.”

The town’s film permit process, in place since 1993, doesn’t require the town board be notified, though Mr. Van Scoyoc said he believed the policy should be re-examined to see if there’s a threshold for disturbance of neighborhoods that could require the board’s oversight. He added that the town’s $250 per day permit fee is hardly enough compensation for the hardship filming causes for residents.

“We’re getting short sale-d on this,” he said.

Ms. Quigley said she thought the film business helped local people earn money.

“We cant all be focused on me, me, me. Society is everybody focusing on issues it takes to make it work,” she said.

“I’m always amazed at how dots are connected in these speeches,” said Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, a Democrat.

“You talk about making a living in this town. You’re preaching to the choir on that,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc, adding that he thought Ms. Quigley’s comments sounded “like paranoia.”

“This is a pilot. What should you expect if this becomes a popular show?” he asked.

Mr. Wilkinson, a former Disney executive who said he dealt with the inconvenience of movie shoots for years while living in Los Angeles, took Ms. Quigley’s side.

“The only thing they’re here for is the background shots. They can do the rest in the studio on a green screen,” he said.

Rona Klopman, a vice-chair of the town’s Democratic Committee who also lives in Amagansett, said she was asked by her neighbors to see if something could be done to change the way film permits are issued.

“You’re ripping up a Republican candidate over something that is made up,” Ms. Quigley said.

“This is not a political issue. This is a lack on the part of the one who issued the permits,” countered Ms. Klopman.

Carole Campolo, the secretary of the town’s Republican Committee, said she thought Ms. Klopman was fighting for her “12 percenters,” the 12 percent of property owners who live full-time in Ms. Klopman’s high-end Amagansett community.

“Mr. Overton has given more to this community than anyone sitting in this audience,” said Ms. Campolo. “To have his name dragged through the mud because he did what the taxpayers asked him to do….”

Mr. Wilkinson said he wouldn’t let Ms. Klopman continue to attack Mr. Overton.

“I’m not running again. Now you want to me leave it to you and your political friends to straighten it out. Like you did last time,” he said, referring to the $27 million deficit his democratic predecessor, Bill McGintee, left the town.

After listening to the board argue for the better part of an hour, Mr. Silverman piped up to say he is a Republican who had come expecting civil conversation at town hall.

“I don’t know where we’re coming to as a town…individual board members may not like what someone says, but I don’t think its proper to personally trash people who come here to speak to you,” he said.

Other Towns

Riverhead board members discussed the town’s recent audit at their work session Thursday. More information is in our story on proposed 2014 town budgets, available here. Southold and Shelter Island have the week off. Southampton had a seven-minute long work session Tuesday, during which they discussed the agenda for next Tuesday’s board meeting, which is available here. They’re going to be discussing the sustainability plan and will hold a public hearing on using Community Preservation Fund money to buy the Neptune Beach Club on the Atlantic Ocean in Hampton Bays. It’s a mess since Hurricane Sandy. More info next week!

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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